Fitting More Physical Activity Into Our Workday Schedule

The list of reasons why we should avoid sitting for long stretches of time continues to grow.

A recent UK study involving people at high risk for type 2 diabetes indicated the more sedentary that an individual is during the day, the greater their levels of fat in the abdomen and around the internal organs.

The association between sitting and fat deposits was even stronger for those doing fewer than 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. With diabetes, we also know inactivity can contribute to higher blood sugar levels.

Six Ways To Keep Moving

To get more movement into our days we may need to sandwich physical activity between the necessary tasks of a busy work schedule. Many people are finding it helps to:

  1. Have a designated desk or file cabinet drawer for exercise gear such as resistance bands, or small hand weights. A couple minutes of arm curls after a tiresome meeting can be energizing.
  2. Sit on a fitness or stability ball instead of a desk chair for all, or part of the day. This will not be appropriate for all workplaces, or for people with balance issues, but sitting on stability balls is a great way to burn a few extra calories while strengthening core muscles. You may want to check out the balance ball chairs, or balance discs at the online store Gaiam (link below).
  3. Use work breaks to take a brisk walk, do simple yoga stretches, or march up a few flights of stairs. Maybe a colleague, or a neighbor if your busy day is spent at home, would love to join you. If you have only a couple minutes to spare, many yoga stretches can be done sitting at your desk—for ideas go to YouTube and search “chair yoga.” Or, check out the videos on specific “desk stretches” offered by the Mayo Clinic (link below).
  4. Stand and move about whenever possible, such as when you’re talking on the phone. Instead of texting or emailing colleagues in your office, walk to their desk for a face to face. Some people improvise a standing desk to use periodically throughout the day.
  5. Walk or bike to work, or park your car at the far end of a ramp or lot, and choose the stairs over an elevator. If we can add 2,000 plus steps to our day, we will be walking an extra mile.
  6. Start an informal exercise group at work, or in your neighborhood. Someone there, maybe you, could lead a basic yoga, pilates, or aerobic dance session. Larger companies are sometimes willing to hire fitness experts for employee workouts if there is enough interest.

Any movement we can add to our sedentary days would likely make our bodies purr, if they could. Even standing, and lightly bouncing by gently flexing our knees - just for a few seconds - is beneficial. Small actions performed consistently can make an amazing difference.

Sources: Mayo Clinic; University of Leicester; Gaiam/Active Sitting; Mayo Clinic/Desk Stretch Videos
Photo credit: rubixcom

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